More than 50 million Europeans will have broadband internet access within a year, according to a new study from Nielsen/NetRatings

Some 28% of the continent’s web users now have a high-speed connection, after the number of subscribers surged 136% in the last thirteen months. If growth continues at this rate, the broadband population will hit the 50m mark by March 2004.

Britain experienced one of the highest growth rates, leaping 235%. However, penetration remains relatively low at just 22% of British surfers. This is ahead of Italy on 16% (the lowest in the survey), but well behind France on 38%. Outside Europe, the highest penetration is in Hong Kong, where 82% of web users have high-speed connections, while the US is on 35%.

According to Nielsen analyst Tom Ewing, broadband usage is highest in European nations where internet growth was slow beforehand. In contrast: “The countries where the internet penetration is greatest and has been longer established, like the UK and Germany, have become used to dial-up connections and broadband is being sold as an upgrade.”

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff